Forza Horizon veterans have found a new studio focused on open world “premium” games

Some high level characters from forza horizon developer Playground Games has split off to develop a new open world in their own studio. Maverick Games is based in Leamington Spa, UK and is headed by Mike Brown, creative director of Forza Horizon 5. Brown also serves as creative director at Maverick. Harinder Sangha, formerly of Sega Hardlight and Sumo Leamington, will run the studio as chief executive.

Former vid bud Matthew really appreciates Forza Horizon 4, aka Blighty.

Brown thinks the Maverick moniker was a word that kept coming up during his performance reviews while working at Playground. It seems to be the mission goal of the new studio who wants to take creative risks. Brown said in an interview with Joining Brown and Sangha on the 10-person staff at Maverick are several other Forizon experts, including executive producer Tom Butcher, chief technology officer Matt Craven, chief content officer Gareth Harwood and director sound director Fraser Strachan.

Art director Ben Penrose is another former Playground employee, joining from Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodhunt devs Sharkmob. UI/UX Director Elly Marshall is leaving EA, where she served as an experienced design director. Maverick is aiming to build their staff to 140 people. Sangha and Brown said they want the company to help improve diversity in the industry and create “developer-first” games that give all Maverick employees a voice in their creative process. Those would be “premium” games, but Brown pointed out they might not be the racing games that Playground is famous for.

While he doesn’t go into detail about what Maverick is doing, Brown hopes they’ll try to capture our increasingly short attention spans. “I saw a statistic that the average time spent watching a TikTok video is three seconds. It’s hard to build a game in about three seconds. That’s probably not possible,” he told GIbiz. “So we need to build our games where we’re always targeting every player, always giving them something to do, never letting them do that much in a game where the game doesn’t work. Play will repeat for 15 hours until you get the credits.”

We’ll let you know when Maverick shares more about what they’re up to.


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